Baingan Bartha-Roasted Eggplant Curry, made by roasting and mashing eggplant, is a popular North Indian recipe. It is served mostly with roti or paratha. Roasting the eggplant gives it a distinct, smoky flavor that blends extremely well with the other ingredients and spices. I have another recipe on this site, Roasted Eggplant Chutney, which is a South Indian recipe made with roasted eggplant.
Roasting an eggplant is a somewhat messy process, at least till you get used to it and build some efficiency. As you roast it on a gas flame, the skin gets burnt and cracked. This is when the vegetable starts dripping – it is a sticky liquid that can be hard to pull off of your stove, once it dries up. One of my aunts has this practice of spreading an aluminum foil around the burner to make sure that the liquid would not drip on the stove. You could also put it on top of the grill instead of under, as you see in the picture. The foil idea is better than having no protection at all but it’s not 100% foolproof. If you do not have a gas stove, the best thing to do is grill the eggplant.
When roasting on gas or grilling, make sure you keep turning the eggplant (with a pair of tongs preferably- you don’t want to burn your hands) so it is evenly cooked all over. If you miss a spot you’ll notice that the skin on that spot cannot be easily peeled. One it is roasted set it on a large plate and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes so it cools down. Also make sure you have the onion and tomato cut and ready, and also have all the spices readily accessible so you can start sautéing while the roasted eggplant is cooling. Once the eggplant cools down, peel it as cleanly as you can, and then transfer to the pan where the rest of the ingredients are being sautéed.